Wednesday, August 26, 2020

105. Willful Misconduct

Willful Misconduct: The Tragic Story of Pan American Flight 806. William Norris. 2020. 371 pages. [Source: Review copy]

  First sentence: Room 64G, in the cellars beneath the United States District Court for the Central District of California, is some way off the Los Angeles tourist route. Above it, in the filing section on the ground floor of the imposing building on North Spring Street, a stern notice forbids public entry. Beyond this sign, a steep flight of stairs leads down to a catacomb of roughcast concrete and dusty pipes. Here is a tomb without bones, a mortuary of long-forgotten files and long-abandoned catalogues of legal pain. It is a place where hopes and dreams and aspirations share the upright coffins of the filing cabinets with tragedy and pain. The paper detritus of the act of dying is all around.

Premise/plot: Willful Misconduct was first published in 1984, I believe, but this is an updated edition that has since been released. The book is about the tragic story of Pan American Flight 806. It is a thorough investigation; readers get a little bit about some of the passengers, particularly the four survivors; readers get a LOT of the drama of the aftermath as lawyers and a (corrupt) judge spend almost a decade (1974 was the crash) bringing it to trial and resolving the case. Who was to blame? Who shares the blame? The U.S. Government? Boeing? PanAm? the pilots? or mother nature? Could the crash have been prevented? Were mistakes made? Was there willful misconduct? How much money should the families of the passengers receive? How much is merited?

The story is intense--in some ways--and fascinating. I can see why it's classified as true crime by Netgalley. The question there more than one crime? The thing that shocked me was not the callous nature of the insurance company...or the lawyers...but by the heartless judge that was corrupt through and through and through who was just pure evil in terms of justice being done. By the end, both sides were angered by his lack of professionalism.

My thoughts: I would definitely recommend this one. It won't be for everyone--I know--not everyone likes to read in detail about court cases and litigation. There are so many lawyers and witnesses involved. Perhaps it would be difficult for some readers to follow--especially if you don't read some in this one each day. But for me I found it a fascinating read. I read some in in it every night. It kept me turning pages. It kept me engaged from start to finish.

© 2020 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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